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History Route 66: what was it really like?

Discussion in 'The Hokey Ass Message Board' started by Barn Find, Jun 13, 2016.

  1. Truckedup
    Joined: Jul 25, 2006
    Posts: 3,923


    In the later 60's I drove back and forth a few times... The Interstate system was not complete and half the time you were on US highways. A lot of it was two lanes and long rows tractor -trailers laboring along with 180 HP. requiring full throttle passing... Route 66 was just another highway ,pretty much like the rest except for the song by Bobby Troup...The passage of time and rose colored glasses can make it better than it was...
    firstinsteele likes this.
  2. Tim
    Joined: Mar 2, 2001
    Posts: 11,895

    from Raytown Mo

    thinking I might have to run a bit of the road when I head to Joplin for the hamb drags here in a few months!
  3. RR
    Joined: Nov 30, 2008
    Posts: 103


    I am not old enough to have driven it back in its hay day, but I have driven it at least partially twice in the past 17 years. If you want to know how it was, go drive it and talk to the old business owners and read the signs and historical markers. They are great and really shed some light on what the road was in that area. We really enjoy 66 and just reading threads like this one makes me want to go load up and go on another trip. Helpful tip, though- even though it's new tech, look for an app for the road. There was one that my wife found that really showed the older alignments and points of interest- like old drive in's, resturaunts, etc. Next time, I want to drive it in my old truck.
  4. Lots of people headed to Calif looking for a fair shake during the depression. People still go thinking that it is the land of milk and honey.

    Route 66 was the main thorofare if you were headed to So Cal. I don't know how people went that were headed for Nor Cal. That may make for interesting conversation if anyone knew the answer.

    We usually travel I 40 if we are going to SoCal which pretty much killed Route 66 although I have been known to go to Phoenix and cross @ Blythe.
  5. A road built through the heart of America. Lincoln Hwy was another similar road. I was in southern Kansas about 25 years ago and tracked down an original section of Hwy 66 where it crossed the corner of the state. About 1 mile was remaining and I drove around the barricade onto the highway. I went back a few years later and it had been bulldozed to widened the existing cross road.
  6. The Lincoln Hwy, I do recall that being mentioned before.

    Thanks ;)
  7. We old geezers know how this nostalgia thing works. It's kinda like the "good old days" syndrome. Everything was wonderful. Actually, I think we remember the good stuff and filter out the not-so good. I doubt the people traveling route 66 in the old days saw it as anything special. Reminds me of traveling Hwy 99 in California in the 60's. Kind of similar to 66 in a lot of ways. Back then it was a way to get from L.A. to Oregon. Today, remembering all the cool stuff that is long gone it brings some feelings of the good old days. Just reminiscing........
  8. Truck64
    Joined: Oct 18, 2015
    Posts: 4,252

    from Ioway

    What's telling, is you'll sometimes find folks with "nostalgia" for a time when they weren't even alive. Now there's a waste of time, twice removed.

    Heavily travelled two-lane roads were dangerous. Drunk driving was more common, I believe. Speeds were posted, but 65 to 70 was the norm. Night time travel, and especially wintertime was white knuckle.

    The major state roads were (and are) fairly wide and not too bad, but let's not get romantic.

    The interstates are mostly boring and homogenized but believe me, at the time everybody was ecstatic about them after having grown up with the state highway system. I recall road trips to places just under a hundred miles away as major ordeals (at times), now with the interstate they are daily commutes.

    Was it worth it? Probably not, and maybe people need to slow down, but that won't happen. On the other hand, the interstates are so expensive to maintain...
  9. Hot Rods Ta Hell
    Joined: Apr 20, 2008
    Posts: 4,144

    Hot Rods Ta Hell

    I believe the Lincoln Highway actually predates Route 66 and is a good history read. It ran from NY to San Fran (via Chicago; so Lincoln was actually the first major Hwy from the Midwest to the Coast).
    The "Northern route" which is basically the current I-40.
  10. Lostinwisc
    Joined: May 2, 2013
    Posts: 43


    The Lincoln highway pretty much still exists across Iowa ...if you feel the need of a road trip there is a river to river tour on it across the state on it , believe it takes place in September this year .
  11. "The "Northern route" which is basically the current I-40."....not sure what you meant to say, but I40 isn't a northern route...I70 or 80??
    I'm participating in my first car show this Saturday. two blocks from my house on old 66 in the historic district of Amarillo. If anybody is passing thru, it's usually a pretty good show. 6th st./old 66 will be blocked off from traffic for 6 or 8 blocks.
  12. wineslob
    Joined: Mar 14, 2016
    Posts: 20


    I would run Hwy 70 back in the late 70's when you had to make the cross-over to 99 to get to Chico. Usually late at night (after work) and not a soul for miles.
  13. Gary Addcox
    Joined: Aug 28, 2009
    Posts: 2,416

    Gary Addcox

    HUDSONMAND, that is really a neat story. Real rockin' chair memories. My wife and I attended LARS 2015 and drove from San Antonio TX to Pomona in our Deuce Highboy. On the return trip, we jumped up to Barstow and headed east on I 40. At Kingman, we picked up Rte. 66. Our first stop was Hackberry, a tourist trap somewhat but very well preserved from the olden days. Several foreign couples surrounded the Deuce one at a time, taking our pictures, then having their's taken inside the car, behind it and in front of it. We were entertained by Austrians, French, Japanese, and Spanish. It took two hours to get away from the crowds, but it was such fun. Not all of them spoke English, and it didn't matter. We then landed in Peach Springs where we ate a late lunch. I believe it is on an Indian Reservation. Next came Seligman, which drops back onto I 40. That was 70 miles or so of the real thing. Someday, we intend to work our way through the Midwest on portions of Rte 66
    hudsonmand, Moondog13 and Hnstray like this.
  14. Hnstray
    Joined: Aug 23, 2009
    Posts: 11,754

    from Quincy, IL

    I think you meant to say I-80...........

  15. Roothawg
    Joined: Mar 14, 2001
    Posts: 20,694


    I predict your kids will be talking of that nostaligic road called I-40.......
  16. Not to get off topic, but I can't even remember the last time I saw/heard of a new highway being put in. I think what we've got is pretty much what our grandkids will see. Oh wait, I've got grandkids now. .......Their grandkids.

    "I drove in on the four lane
    where the two lane use to be.....
    The highway sung it's forgotten song
    ...from 1963"
    Last edited: Jun 15, 2016
  17. That said, we do need an interstate from Dallas to Denver. Then our grandkids'grandkids can talk of the way old highway 287 use to be.
    And.......we still have lots of old US highways still serving as the main route. The mentioned 287 goes from the big wa-wa down south all the way to the Canadian border. I use highway 60 alot..that goes from California thru Phoenix, Roswell, Amarillo, Oklahoma, etc.
    Last edited: Jun 15, 2016
  18. Hot Rods Ta Hell
    Joined: Apr 20, 2008
    Posts: 4,144

    Hot Rods Ta Hell

    Oops, yes I-80. Hodge_Lincoln_Highway_map_I_80.jpg
  19. belair
    Joined: Jul 10, 2006
    Posts: 8,605


    There was a good show on (probably) the Velocity Channel about the Lincoln Highway. Good stuff.
  20. Dixie HWY (Florida to Michigan maybe?) US 10. I/we old farts still call the stretch from Pontiac to Flint by that name.

    Bet most of it is gone.
  21. ken bogren
    Joined: Jul 6, 2010
    Posts: 773

    ken bogren

    The Lincoln Hwy dates to 1913, Route 66 didn't come along until 1926.

    There are still a couple of short sections of old 66 between Miami and Afton OK where the pavement was and still is only 9 feet wide. It's pretty beat up, but still in use daily by locals and tourists. That's a one lane, two way road. If two cars meet. one or both need(s) to pull off onto the gravel shoulders to pass.
    Last edited: Jun 15, 2016
  22. Here's a little road song that ought to bring a tear to your eye... ;)

    denis4x4 and Texas57 like this.
  23. I knew what you meant, I have been back and forth to the Bay Area and points north so many times I have lost count. I sued to play this song in my head a lot when I was traveling home even though it really doesn't apply, well maybe it does sort of:

    Sad thing is that I am not sure I really . . .

    Returning to regular programming, one year I got on Route 66 as close to Chicago as I could find it and rode on it everywhere that I could find it to the end. A lot of it meant side trips up and back. There was a lot less restored but lots of things to see, I am not sure that I hit every nook and cranny they didn't used to have maps that made it as easy as today. Was a good trip, it goes for quite a while near Lebanon, Missouri and there were a lot of the old road signs still out there as well as the historic signs. I was close enough that I could stop and see my mom about a 20 mile excursion, off the route.
    Last edited: Jun 15, 2016
  24. I grew up in So Cal about a mile off Route 66 where it was the main street through our little town - Duarte. In the 50's and 60's we didn't call it route 66, even though we knew it was, we just called it by it's Formal name - Huntington Dr.
    We even owned the local Slot Car store and it was right on Rt. 66
    My dad came to California in on Route 66 in Dec 1941, just before Pearl Harbor. My Grandfather was a T-Man and they moved a lot. They had been in Lincoln NE for a short period and got transferred to Pasadena, so they dropped straight down to Oklahoma City and headed west. Heard many stories, But none of them Horror stories about the road, drunks and crashes - maybe it was different for a 10 year old boy heading to the land of opportunity.
    In 1964 we drove a good portion of 66 as we took a 3 month driving vacation in a new Chevy van that my dad had made into a camper. I have fond memories of it as well, and don't think it is due to rose colored glasses.
  25. mike in tucson
    Joined: Aug 11, 2005
    Posts: 499

    mike in tucson
    from Tucson

    I remember it being called highway 66 instead of route. Except for in town, road was narrow, had lots of side roads where people would pull out, potholes at the side edge of the pavement, etc. My mom insisted we not stick our arms out of the window for fear of an approaching the kid that got national attention when he lost his arm to a close passing vehicle. We would drive from Springfield, Mo to Albuquerque with the windows down. The old man smoked and flicked ashes out of the window which came in my the end of the day, I was near heat stroke. Mom carried wet wash cloths for us to wipe our faces. Usual place to whiz and to buy cold drinks was at gas stations....most were dumps. Passing was a real thrill in a Chevy six loaded down. Like someone said, lines of trucks in the hilly areas was a real drag. Stony Dell Hill coming west from Rolla, Mo was a particularly slow area. The romance associated with the road now is much better than the highway ever was.
    hudsonmand likes this.
  26. The intersections that @MO_JUNK is talking about would have been bloody anyway. They were the main route through town and cross traffic and drunks don't mix.

    One thing that we fail to think about is that any highway in that time period and many clear up into the '60s and '70s were not super highways. A lot like two laneing is today, if you get behind a combine or hay wagon the going is going to be a little slow. If they two lane just happens to be busy like any cross country route would be it is going to back up.

    I can remember going up into logging country when I was a kid and ol man bitching because the log trucks were not pulling over and letting him pass. I would just imagine that the old highways were like that everywhere.
  27. 50dodge4x4
    Joined: Aug 7, 2004
    Posts: 3,535


    RT 66 is a lot nicer to drive on these days then it was before the Interstate system was complete.
    The original road was 9' wide (wide in its day), but most of it was converter to 10' wide as sections were replaced over the years. 10' wide is narrow by today's standards. When I was a kid, in 1965, our family took vacation to Long Beach CA from our home in Freeport IL We caught Rt 66 at St Louis. I remember dad spending most of the trip passing slower cars & trucks. I 40 made the trip much faster and much safer, but pretty much killed the small towns along the way. The advantage RT 66 had was that it cut through at an angle from Chicago to LA.

    We just got back from a vacation where we took US 36 from Hannibal Mo to the end of KS. Traveling westward, about 1/4 of the way through Mo it changes from a 4 lane back to a two lane. That 2 lane is very wide with nice shoulders, and a few passing lanes added in. The speed limit is 65mph. There is a lot of truck traffic on it near cities (more like small towns with populations under 1,000 people). Even on the wide road surface, passing trucks is a pita.
    On our return trip, we intended on running on US 34 (I70 is about midway between US 36 and US 34), but by the time I reached Iowa, I went north and caught US 20 which is 4 lane through IA. I was pretty tired of two lane and slow moving trucks. The US Highways that are 4 lane are a nice drive at a pace a little slower then the traffic on the Interstates is moving with less traffic and the ability to easily pass slow moving trucks.
    The 2 lane highways are OK for a short cruise, but they suck if you want or need to get someplace with a time limitation. Gene
  28. I travel 36 between I 35 and Hannibal all the time and I remember when it was a two lane highway. They expanded it because of the truck traffic.

    It can get really tricky during harvest, between the semis, farm equipment and the deer it actually becomes an adventure. LOL
  29. MO_JUNK
    Joined: Jan 22, 2006
    Posts: 1,061

    from Rolla, Mo.

    Hnstray, the old Diamonds restaurant/truckstop is still standing but all boarded up. It's at the exit to Washington, Missouri from I-44. Off-topic, there are still some really nice 2-lane roads throughout the Midwest that offer great alternatives to the Interstate. About 3-years back a group of us drove highway 60 east across southern Missouri enroute to the Bowling Green Drags. What a driving experience when there are no big trucks to deal with. There are numerous 2-lanes throughout Kansas and Oklahoma as well as many other states I'm sure.
  30. I actually did back roads through OK once to miss the Will Rogers turnpike. I think it took about 3 or 4 hours from Joplin to Tulsa but well worth it. The Missus and I two laned from Springfield to Mammoth Spring, AR a couple of times. Once we hit every business loop along the way so that we didn't miss anything.

    I just about imagine that you can do that in anywhere USA if you try. I know I have done my share over the years, there is a lot to see in this old country if you just take the time to do it.
    hudsonmand and Texas57 like this.

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